In the dull and dingy ranks of "easy reading" for young children, the books of Arnold Lobel stand out like notes of bright color. Lobel is the author of Frog and Toad Together, and if easy reading books could be classics, several of his should be. Probably my favorite is Owl at Home. Owl is a feathered version of an Oxford don. He wears shabby clothes and does such eccentric things as running up and down the stairs fast to see if he can be in two places at once, thinking of sad things so that he can make tear-water tea ("It tastes a little salty, but tear-water tea is always very good"), and talking to the moon.
One of the best Owl stories is "The Guest."
Owl is sitting quietly before his fire, eating pea soup, when he hears a knocking at the door. Eventually he concludes that the poor old winter wants to come inside. "Well," decides Owl, "I will be kind and let the winter come in. Come in, Winter," says Owl, opening his door very wide. "Come in and warm yourself for a while." So Winter comes in with a vengeance. It blows out the fire, piles snow everywhere, and--unkindest cut of all--turns the pea soup into hard, green ice. Owl runs about pathetically like Gloucester in King Lear crying, "Winter! You are my guest. This is no way to behave." But in the end there is nothing for it. He has to kick Winter out. Fortunately it works simply to yell, "Go away, right now!" Winter runs out and slams the door, and Owl yells, "Good-bye, and do not come back." Gradually the house warms back up, the soup melts, and Owl is able to sit down again in peace and finish his dinner.
Now, what contemporary situation could that story possibly make me think of?